Archive for the ‘Running Tips’ Category

The end of summer can be very bittersweet. While it’s sad to say goodbye to this warm season, there are a lot of exciting things that lye ahead for the fall. One of the best parts of the autumn months is how it can help you get back into your fitness program. Here are five reasons why you will be fit this fall.

1. Steady Schedule

Summer schedules are different for most people. The past three months have been filled with vacations, taking care of children that are out of school and summer work hours. September means getting back into your regular schedule, which makes it easier to plan time to work-out. Consistency is the key to getting and staying on track with your fitness regimen.

2. Fantastic Weather

Fall weather can be very motivating. The cool air is great for outdoor bootcamps, walking, running and biking. Remember those 90 degree days when you either skipped your run or opted for the treadmill. In the fall, overheating isn’t a big concern.

3. Autumn Activities

With a new season comes new activities. In the fall you can say goodbye to sitting in your air-conditioned house and step outside for a walk in the park to look at the fall foliage. Some other activities to enjoy are apple and pumpkin picking, hiking or getting into the spirit of Halloween with a walking ghost tour.

4. Road Races

Fall is a popular time for local road races. Many race directors schedule their events during the autumn months. The attendance is higher because of the great weather and availability people tend to have in the fall. Take advantage of these racing opportunities. On Cool Running you can find local 5Ks, 10Ks, Half-marathons and more.

5. Calm Before The Storm

Remind yourself of how crazy December can be. The holidays will be filled with food, shopping, parties and lots of chances for you to veer off of the track to reaching your fitness goals. Use the next couple of months to stay dedicated and motivated to improving your health. Take advantage of everything the fall has to offer before you become consumed with the holiday season.

Use the fall season to get back into fitness and have some fun while you do it!

Photo Credit:http://hr.umich.edu

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Traveling for a race can be very exciting. Especially if it’s a destination you’ve never traveled to. Hitting the road for an event can also add extra stress, which will effect your performance. Follow these tips on how to have a successful race while on the road.

1. Stay at the Start

Scout out different hotels that are near your event’s starting line. There may be a lot of traffic on race day, it’s best to book a hotel that is walking distance to the beginning of your race. This one convenience can make a big difference in your stress level on race day. Make the morning of your race as easy as possible by reserving a room close to the start.

2. Arrive Early

Plan to arrive at your destination more than a day early. You want as much time to get settled as possible before your race. Anything can happen when traveling, lost luggage, flight delays or missing a flight. Give yourself an extra day to make dealing with these travel obstacles a lot easier. You don’t want to feel rushed on the day before your event. You work so hard to train, you should be as relaxed as possible the day before your run.

3. Research The Area

Take some time to check out the city you are staying in. We have so much information at our fingertips these days, use the internet to your advantage. You are likely to find helpful reviews on places to eat before your race. Learn from other visitors’ experiences to make the most out of your stay. Be sure to look into your hotel’s breakfast hours and what they serve. You will most likely be getting up very early for your event, make sure you will have access to the food you normally eat before your run.

4. Review The Route

Most races provide a map and elevation chart on their website. Get to know where the hills and tough spots of the route may be. If you are someone that likes to know every inch of the course then study the race map and read other runner’s reviews on the race. Many times past participants will give specific tips on the best and worst parts of the course, which can be extremely helpful.

Destination races are a great experience. Make sure to take some extra steps to make your race-cation a successful one!

Photo Credit:http://bandtcrowd.blogspot.com

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You’re alarm goes off in the morning and you immediately start debating whether you should actually get out of bed to get your run in or take an extra hour of sleep. While the extra sleep may sound very tempting, here are 5 reasons why you should get out of bed and hit the pavement.

1. Perfect Weather Conditions

In the summer months the weather can get very hot and humid as the day goes on. Even if you do manage to get through a 90 degree run in the middle of the day, you will not perform as well as you would have in the cool hours of the morning. It’s easier to stay hydrated in cooler weather as well. You won’t sweat as much as you would in hot and humid conditions.

2. See The Sunrise

One of my favorite things about running early in the morning is watching the sunrise. You will feel so awake by the end of your run. Starting out in the dark and finishing your run as the sun is coming out is a beautiful way to start off your day.

3. Enjoy The Rest Of Your Day

Exercising in the morning means you don’t have to think about it for the rest of the day. You can focus on the other activities that occur through out your day. There is no worry in the back of your mind that you won’t be able to fit in your scheduled run because of traffic, making dinner or any other chores you have to get done. It’s one less thing to worry about.

4. Less Traffic

Depending on where your route is, the morning may be the safest time for you to run. There are less cars on the road before sunrise giving you a safer run. Be sure to wear light or reflective clothing on your early morning runs so the cars that are on the road can see you clearly.

5. Peaceful Running

The hours before sunrise are often very quiet. If you are someone who runs without any music this is a great advantage for you. Some of us enjoy running because it quiets our minds. You can focus on your breathing or listen to your feet hitting the pavement. Early morning is the best time to enjoy a quiet peaceful run.

When your alarm goes off tomorrow morning remember all of the great things that a morning run has to offer and get out of bed!

Photo Credit: http://www.fitsugar.com

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Are you looking to ease off of the treadmill and onto the pavement? Running along the road can be intimidating for first time runners. Here are four great spots for you to try outdoor running without the boredom of a school track or the worries of the open road.

1. Jamaica Pond
507 Jamaicaway (at Pond St)
Jamaica Plain, MA 02130

Scenic Jamaica Pond is a popular spot for runners, walkers and bicyclists. Once around is 1.4 miles of fairly flat pavement. The tree lined path is great for sunny days to provide natural shade. There’s a water fountain and even a pull up bar if you are in the mood for some strength training as well. Nice weekend days can get pretty crowded, depending on what time you go.

Parking can be found on Perkins Street on the west side of the pond. This park is open until 11:30PM, although I wouldn’t go by myself past dusk.

2. Millennium Park
398 Gardner St
West Roxbury, MA 02132

Millennium park is a great place for a walking and running. There are multiple options for mileage that are mapped out for you on a big display near the entrance of the park. The course is a bit hilly which provides great views of Boston. There are plenty of benches for when you are done with your run and want to take a rest. If you are a dog lover this is a great spot for you as they are everywhere. If not you may want to skip this doggy sanctuary.

The parking is free and there are plenty of spaces in the lot. This park is open until dusk.

3. Castle Island
100 William T Morrissey Boulevard
Boston, MA 02125

Castle Island is a favorite spot among many runners. The distance around the whole island including the sugar bowl and pleasure bay is 2.1 miles. There are a few short cuts if you’re looking for less mileage. The breeze off of the water is very refreshing and the path around the island is pretty wide which is great during the busy season.

Parking is free and plentiful. Castle Island is open until dusk.

4. The Arnold Arboretum
25 Arborway
Jamaica Plain, MA 02130

The Arnold Arboretum is one of the most beautiful places to run in Boston. This Harvard owned park has lots of loops to run around while enjoying the variety of plants, flowers and trees. The park tends to be shady which is good for summer days when you feel like it’s too hot to run outside. There are plenty of benches to rest and things to see once you’re done with your run.

Parking can be a bit tight, you may have to circle the park a few times before you find street parking.

Boston offers a number of great running areas. These four are my favorite and are perfect for anyone wanting to try an outdoor run.

Photo Credit:http://www.weddingmapper.com

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Is this rainy weather bumming you out? Here are ten reasons to skip the treadmill and run in the rain.

1. Keep Cool

You won’t have to worry about overheating in the rain. Even on warm days the rain will cool you off!

2. Rain Gear

Do you have a rain coat or hat that has been sitting in your closet, now is the time you get to break them in.

3. Less Traffic

Most people don’t like to walk, run or bike in the rain. Enjoy the extra room on the sidewalk.

4. Feel Like A Badass

When everyone else is heading for the treadmill, be proud of yourself for braving the elements.

5. Sweet Smells

Enjoy that fresh clean smell of the rain, instead of smelling the person next to you on the treadmill at the gym.

6. Save Time

Getting to and from your gym takes up time in your day that you may not have. Depending on how far away your gym is and how much you socialize before you actually step on the treadmill, you can add from 30:00 to an hour onto the time you spend running. Save time and run from your house.

7. Inspire Others

When people see you running in bad weather they’ll either think “that person is crazy.” or “wow, look at this person running in the rain, I should exercise today.” Forget about the people that think your crazy and inspire the ones that need it!

8. Feel In Control

When you are in the mindset to run and it starts to pour you may feel defeated. By heading out for your run anyway you gain a sense of control in your life even if it is over a small thing like when you get to run. Don’t let the weather dictate how your day will go.

9. Feel Like A Kid Again

Run through puddles, get muddy and have fun. When you were a child and you wanted to play a game outside it didn’t matter if it was raining. You just wanted to play. Feel youthful again by hitting the wet pavement.

10. Enjoy the Scenery

If you run the same routes every week you’re bound to get sick of the scenery. The rain makes everything look different. You may even catch a rainbow.

Don’t let the weather get you down. Get outside and run!

“Do not wait until the conditions are perfect to begin. Beginning makes the conditions perfect.” ~Alan Cohen

Photo Credit: www.roadrunnersusa.com

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Do you find yourself stressed the morning of a road race? Follow this checklist to ensure a cool and confident start to your event.

1. Set Two Alarms

You want to make sure you get up on time the day of your race. Don’t rely on one alarm clock. Place one next to your bed and one across the room so you have to get up to shut the second one off. When you wake up on schedule you give yourself the advantage of taking your time, instead of rushing around the house.

2. Eat Breakfast

Never skip this important meal. Eat 60-90 minutes before you leave your house. For endurance races have a meal that is 40% Fat/30% Protein/30% Carbohydrate. With these nutrient proportions you will be properly fueled for your event. Take your time eating and have at least one glass of water with your meal to start hydrating.

3. Stick To What You Know

Race day is never the time to try something new. Wear your usual running gear, try out your breakfast before the day of your event. Never grab something from a re-fueling stand during the race unless it is a product or food you have had before while running.

4. Stock Up

Don’t rely on the race to supply water, Gu, Shot Blocks, etc.. If these are products you normally use during a run then bring them with you on race day. Chances are there will be stations with water and Gu during the race, but you don’t want to take that risk. Try out different products for carrying your supplies. There are lots of fuel belts on the market, find one that works for you.

5. Wear Sunscreen

Avoid ending the race with a sunburn. Even if the weather seems mild when you start the sun can get stronger as the race goes on, depending on your event. The pavement when your running is a magnet for the hot sun, don’t leave your skin unprotected.

6. Leave Your Home Early

The beginning of a race can sometimes be mayhem. There are multiple situations that can prevent you from getting to the start line on time.

  • You may hit traffic, or there can be a long line of cars waiting to get into the parking area, depending on the size of the event.
  • If you have to hit the bathroom, chances are there will be a line about 10 people deep, no matter how many port-a-potties there are.
  • The start line can be a long walk from the parking area of a race.

Be prepared for these situations by showing up early.

7. Pick a Meeting Point

Designate an area where you will meet other runners, your family or friends after the race. Do this ahead of time so you’re not rushing around before the race trying to get the message to everyone. You don’t want to be worrying about having to search for your friends, while you’re trying to concentrate on your run. Pick a specific area to make meeting up after the race easy.

Take these seven simple precautions to make the day of your event as relaxing as possible.

Photo Credit: www.kellybennett.com

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I have been running in the Nike Frees for over a year and they are by far my favorite running sneaker.

I have logged many miles in the Nike Frees including training for and completing the 2010 Chicago Marathon. I’ve ran in a variety of running sneakers through the years including Adidas, Saucony, Asics, New Balance, Brooks and now Nikes. My search ends here with the Nike Free and here’s why.

Flexibility

The sole of this sneaker is very flexible. The shoe forms to your foot and allows for a natural running stride. There is minimal time to break in this sneaker because they do not start off stiff like most running shoes. I ran the 2009 Boston Marathon in a pair of Brooks sneakers that were recommended to me. The shoes were heavy and I felt like I had bricks on my feet. I appreciate the flexibility that the Nike Free allows.

Lightweight

There is minimal cushion in the Nike Free. The less cushion you have in your sneaker the more you decrease the risk of developing an overuse injury. With minimal padding in your sneaker you learn to land softer on your feet, which lessens the impact on your ankle, knee and hip joints. I use to run very heavy on my feet, you could hear me stomping on the treadmill a mile away. Now, I’ve learned to land softer, which has been less stress on the joints in my legs. The muscles in your foot will also get stronger which enables you to support your legs more efficiently.

Economical

A good pair of running sneakers traditionally run from $100.00-$200.00. The Nike Free costs about $85.00, depending on where you shop. If you are logging a lot of mileage buying running sneakers can get expensive. There is a good price difference between these sneakers and other top running shoes.

Variety

The Nike Free comes in multiple colors and styles. There are different levels of cushioning for those runners that want to break into this style of shoe gradually. Nike currently offers the 7.0 which has the most cushion, the Free Run Plus is the next step down and the 3.0 has the least cushion of all three. Nike comes out with new colors for this shoe every few months. You can even customize your own on the Nike website.

I’ve had clients that were recommended orthotics and motion control sneakers that ended up with knee pain and were unable to run. When they tried running in the Nike Free they had no pain in their knees and were able to train for and complete a half marathon.

Over the past year I’ve recommended this shoe to many of my clients that are runners. 90% of the time the Nike Free has been the perfect fit.

Photo Credit: eplaya.burningman.com

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Training for a Marathon? Here are 5 common issues endurance runners come across, and simple ways to avoid them.

1. Sour Stomach

This is one of the most common issues that can happen on a long run or any run for that matter. Stomach discomfort can be prevented by paying attention to your diet. The night before a long run, eat a meal that is 40% Fat/30% Protein/30% Carbohydrate. Be sure not to eat too late at night as well. The next morning eat a breakfast with the same proportions and give yourself at least one hour to digest before you head out to run.

Quick Fix: Take a break and hit the nearest gas station. Most places are good about letting runners use their bathrooms.

2. Cramping

Runners can be prone to cramping in their stomach and/or legs. Take these three precautions to prevent cramps.

  • The day before your run drink plenty of water and limit drinks that cause dehydration (coffee, soda, alcohol).
  • Use a foam roller daily to help work out any tightness in your legs.
  • Get a massage every couple of weeks

Quick Fix: Slowly come to a stop and stretch until you feel relief in the tight area. Start back again at a slower pace and try to calm your breathing.

3. Boredom

Running the same streets every week can get tedious. Make sure you switch up your running routes so you don’t get bored. Use a running website to map out your runs such as fivi.com. Step out of your comfort zone and try a new path, the variety will keep you awake and engaged in your run.

Quick Fix: Take your mind somewhere else. Visualize crossing the finish line at your race or make a to-do list for your week. Some of your best ideas can come to you during a run.

4. Low Energy Level/Dizziness

Poor fueling will cause you to have a low energy level and this will effect how your run goes. Depending on the length of your run, using Gu can be very beneficial for your energy. Use one Gu packet every 40-45:00 for the most efficient results. If you wait until you’re feeling tired then it’s already too late to get the most benefits out of your Gu. Also, be sure to get enough sleep the night before your long run.

Quick Fix: Stop at the nearest convenient store and pick up something with sugar. If they don’t have Gu, grab some sport jelly beans.

5. Wardrobe Malfunction

Comfortable clothing is key when you’re hitting the streets for hours at a time. If you are uncomfortably dressed, that is bound to be a distraction. Avoid discomfort caused by clothing by trying your running outfit on a shorter run like 3-5 miles. It’s too hard to tell how your clothes will feel during a run by just trying them on in a store. Make sure you to test it out before your longer runs.

Quick Fix: If you’re stuck with multiple layers that are causing discomfort, shed something. You can always drive back and pick up the clothing item(s) you dropped.

Long runs are the time to work out these kinks that can happen on race day. If you experience one of these running issues, pay attention to what you did leading up to your long run. Learn from your mistakes and you will be much better off on the day of your event.

Photo Credit: http://thedynamiclife.wordpress.com

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As the spring approaches so does some of my favorite local road races. Here are three races that are worth getting ready for!

1. Doyle’s 14th Annual Emerald Necklace Road Race

  • Date/Time: April 10th, 2011 at 11:00 AM
  • Location: Doyle’s Cafe;  3484 Washington St., Jamaica Plain, Ma. 02130
  • Registration: Online or download a registration form to be mailed in or brought to Doyle’s Cafe.
  • Cost: $25 for pre-registration/$30 day of race. Proceeds to benefit Sister Jeanne’s Kids Fund and the Boston Police Gaelic Column of Pipes and Drums.

Why you should participate:

This 5 mile road race is fairly flat with a scenic course. It’s a great course for beginners or advanced runners looking to get a new PR. The post-race gathering is fantastic. There is free food and refreshments, a DJ and live music inside from the Fenian Brothers. The staff at Doyle’s are very friendly and they make for a great atmosphere. Don’t miss out on this race!

2. The James Joyce Ramble 10K

  • Date/Time:Date: Sunday, May 1, 2011 at 11:00 a.m.
  • Location: Endicott Estate 656 East Street, Dedham, MA
  • Registration: Online or mail in your registration form
  • Cost: $35.00 for Pre-Registration/$40.00 for race day registration. All Proceeds from the Ramble are donated to the Claudia Adams-Barr Program at Boston’s Dana Farber Cancer Institute.

Why you should participate:

This 10K is a challenging and fun course. There are actors spread through-out the roads reciting works from James Joyce. This race is very family friendly. There’s a children’s ramble one hour before the race starts and there is plenty of entertainment along with complimentary refreshments post race.
The James Joyce Ramble has been featured in The New York Times, Sports Illustrated,Christian Science Monitor, The Wall Street Journal,  Runners World, National Public Radio, The Boston Globe, ESPN, New England Runner Magazine among others.

3. The Corrib 5K Road Race

  • Date: Has not been announced yet. In the past it’s been scheduled for the first Sunday in June
  • Location: The Corrib Pub, 2030 Centre Street, West Roxbury, MA 02132
  • Registration: Check The Massachusetts Event Calendar on the website Cool Running in a few weeks, and the registration procedure should be posted.

Why you should participate:

This is a quick and challenging 5K course. There are two major hills, but the last quarter mile is all downhill. There is typically a late start (noon) and an amazing post race BBQ. There are complimentary refreshments and lots of activities for children. Last year they had a DJ, moon bounce, face painting and ice cream trucks to name a few of the family attractions. The post-race activities are held at Billings field behind The Corrib and its an event not to be missed.

If you need some motivation to run through the tail end of this winter, think of these three great races as a reason to get moving again.

Photo Credit: http://www.cityoflennoxsd.com

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I couldn’t help but think of my Physical Education students when I read the Times Article “Skip the Stretch Before Running — It Doesn’t Prevent Injuries”¹ The article states that through a recent study, static stretching before a run did not decrease your chance in injury. I spent the first 3 months of my P.E. Teaching career explaining this concept to my students, especially the older ones.

The children that I teach had been use to their routine of coming into the gym, performing static stretches, running laps and then starting the lesson plan for the day. For me to change their routine took a lot of explaining and I still believe they’re not all convinced.

I used the analogy of comparing your muscles to a rubber band. If you’ve ever seen a cold elastic band, what happens when you try to stretch it? The rubber band breaks. When you have a warm rubber band, it stretches very easily.

In my classes, I always start with a warm up, but I never have them perform static stretching at the beginning of class. My students start with a walk/light jog, followed by dynamic stretching and then some additional static stretches before we begin our lesson plan. This prevents injury and gets their muscles prepared for the sport/exercise they are about to partake in. However, at least once a month I will still have a hand raised with the question “why don’t we stretch first?”

As a runner, I agree with the Times Article for myself and for the way I work with my clients and Physical Education classes. I always start with a proper general warm up before exercise. I use static stretching at the end of a session for a cool down and in an effort to prevent any cramping or tightening of the muscles after exercise.

Here is an example of a dynamic warm up that I use with my Physical Education Class.

  • 100Ft. of Toy Soldiers; Take one step, lift the opposite leg as high as it will comfortably go and touch the knee of that leg. Repeat on opposite side
  • 100Ft. of Cherry Pickers; High skip while reaching one hand in the air
  • 100Ft. of Caterpillar; Bend at the waist and walk your hands out to a plank position. Then walk your feet into meet your hands, while keeping only a slight bend in your knees. Walk your hands back out and then your feet in again to meet your hands.
  • 100Ft. Back Shuffle; Step backwards staying on the balls of your feet. Look behind you to make sure you don’t crash into anything.

Repeat all exercises

This warm up will raise your core temperature and improve your flexibility at the same time. For an extra stretch you can perform some static stretches afterward, although it is not necessary.

¹Skip the Stretch Before Running — It Doesn’t Prevent Injuries By Alice Park Friday, February 18, 2011, Time Healthland

Photo Credit: http://www.huffingtonpost.com

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